Mary Louise Wennihan Carter has gone to her place of rest on August 6, 2021. She will be lovingly missed by her children, Linda Carter (Graham Barnes) of Topeka, Joan Tongier (Tom) of Altamont, and Larry Carter of Lawrence; her grandchildren Deon Smith (Mindy) of Claremore, OK; Denae Golden (Mark) of Omaha, NE; and Asha Park-Carter of Boston, MA; her great-grandchildren Corbin Smith of Stillwater, OK and Chloe Smith of Claremore, OK; her sister Gertrude Boulanger of Bartlesville, OK; many nieces, nephews and grand nieces and nephews, and the loving staff at Windsor Place.
Mary was born on February 20, 1922 and raised on the 3rd generation family farm of her parents, Owen and Stella Wennihan, just north of Havana, Kansas. As the oldest of four sisters, she was surrounded by loving relatives, including her dad’s mother, after whom she was named, and her mother’s many relatives who lived around that area.
Mary received an excellent early education in one-room Round Mound School, placing in the top three 8th grade students in Montgomery County before continuing her education at Havana High School. Upon graduating from there as a gifted student at age 16, she had the opportunity to further her education at (now) Coffeyville Community College, where she graduated at age 18. She taught for the next three years in a one-room schoolhouse called Sunnyside School west of Independence. The schoolhouse has since been moved to the Little House on the Prairie site near Independence, where she is commemorated on a plaque honoring the school’s teachers.
While a student at CCC, she attended worship services at the First Christian Church where she met Harold Carter. They were married a year later on Dec 27, 1941 and celebrated 59 years of marriage until his death in 2001. Harold enlisted in the war effort soon afterwards and spent nearly four years overseas, the last year during which Mary moved to Coffeyville where she lived with her in-laws, Orvil and Mabel Carter, and worked at the JC Penney store downtown.
With the end of the war, Mary settled into life as homemaker in Coffeyville, raising children Linda, Joan, and Larry. She was also in life-long service at the First Christian Church where for many years she and Harold were in charge of the little ones during Sunday school or church services. In later years she also served as Deacon, Elder, Worship Leader, and Chair of the Board of Directors.
Mary will be remembered for her loving service toward others. As relatives became sick or neared death, Mary was the one most likely called upon to give aid and comfort. From when she was a 12-year-old child caring for her grandmother after her stroke, to 55 years later when Harold began to experience a loss of abilities, Mary was there to offer gentle support and dedicated assistance. When Harold’s abilities deteriorated to a point where it was necessary for him to live in Windsor Place, Mary pledged to visit him every single day, a promise she fulfilled over the a long six year period.
After Harold entered the nursing home, Mary was determined to live the rest of her life independently in the family home, which she managed to do until just before her 98th birthday. This presented many daily challenges, which she overcame with her typical Wennihan determination and grit. She was always her best critic, so some might overlook the many challenges she overcame in adjusting to maintaining a household on her own. She also had the self-awareness and courage to make her own decisions for when she no longer felt capable of completing necessary tasks - when to stop operating the riding lawn mower, when to stop driving the car, when to hire morning and evening assistance from helpers, and ultimately, when it was time to move to the nursing home. Thank you to the staff at Windsor Place for the loving, tender care you provided these last 18 months.
Mary has joined her husband Harold, granddaughter Danielle Tongier, sisters Viola Wheatley and Belle Wiley, parents Stella and Owen Wennihan, and a host of friends and relatives who have gone before. Hers was a life well lived in loving service and Christian devotion, and she lives on in the memory of those who were blessed to know her and love her.
Visitation will be held 9am-5pm on Tuesday, August 10, 2021, at Ford-Wulf-Bruns Chapel, 2405 Woodland Ave., Coffeyville, KS 67337. Mary will be laid to rest next to her husband in Private Graveside Services in Restlawn Memorial Park Cemetery. Memorial donations may be made payable to Meals on Wheels and left in care of the chapel, or to another organization of your choice. To leave an online message of condolence or share a memory visit www.fordwulfbrunschapel.com